The latest update on activities related to the Sustainable Development Goals from IFLA includes information on the following: Voluntary National Reviews 2021, our Data for Advocacy webinar, the Library Pledge for Digital Inclusion, an update on the Library Map of the World, our latest Library Stat of the Week posts, the Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers report, IFLA’s Get Into Guides, and a list of relevant  recent blogs.

1) Update on Voluntary National Reviews in 2021

The formal list of countries which will undertake Voluntary National Reviews in 2021 has now More countries have now stated their desire to carry out a Voluntary National Review (VNR) in 2021. The final list has now been published by the United Nations, and the following countries will undertake reviews: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Chad, China, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, DPR Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, Zimbabwe.

We will be in touch with libraries in each country in order to support engagement in the VNR process, including through preparing DA2I Country Analyses. As ever, we also encourage the preparation of SDG stories from relevant countries to support your advocacy.

2) Webinar on Data for Advocacy

To mark World Statistics Day, IFLA organised a webinar presenting the different resources we and our partners make available to support libraries both in understanding their context, and in advocacy. This includes presentations about our Library Map of the World and Development and Access to Information (DA2I) Country Analyses, as well as the DA2I Dashboards created by the Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington iSchool. There is also discussion of the analysis that is possible on the basis of this information, and how it can feed into engagement in Voluntary National Reviews.

The recording of the webinar is available here.

3) Digital Inclusion for Development (Including Pledge for Sign-On)

While digital technologies have allowed many to continue, at least to some extent, with education, work and other elements of life despite lockdowns, this has been far from the case for everyone. Those without connectivity have faced the risk of being left even further behind.

In response, IFLA has worked with partners who share the objective of ensuring that everyone can enjoy access to information to develop a Call for Action to governments. This highlights the need to ensure that every community has the possibility to connect, in particular through public access solutions, that all schools can access relevant content, that libraries have the resources to offer support to users, and that there is work to realise the potential of libraries as development accelerators.

In parallel, we have released a Library Pledge for Digital Inclusion, and strongly encourage our members to sign up, in order to demonstrate to policy-makers our own commitment to making the most of the possibilities we have to bring more people online.

4) Library Map of the World

There is new and updated data on the Library Map of the World that we hope will help you in your advocacy. This includes updated data for Slovenia, Mali, Namibia, South Korea and Japan, and new countries on the map – Saint Kitts and Nevis and Belize.

There are also new stories, including from Jordan (supporting SDG9 on research), and from Costa Rica (on SDGs 12 and 13 – sustainability and climate action) – Platform to access theses and dissertations from across the Arab World enhances research. Do take a look at our Library Map of the World

Finally, there is also a new country profile, again from St Kitts and Nevis.

5) Library Stat of the Week

Recent posts have drawn both on Library Map of the World data and figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment about the use that 15-year olds make of libraries, and how these relate to other metrics.

Posts focus both on the positive connection between numbers of school libraries and library access and enjoyment of reading, between access to libraries and reading performance, and on the degree to which groups at risk of marginalisation (students from immigrant backgrounds, those who don’t have a room of their own or an internet connection at home, and those whose parents have lower formal educational qualifications) rely more on libraries. In each case, the data supports the argument that libraries matter, both in general, and in particular for otherwise vulnerable groups.

6) The Goalkeepers Report

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has published the latest edition of its Goalkeepers report, setting out the current state of progress on issues at the heart of the Foundation’s work.

IFLA has published a blog summarising the key lessons of the report, in particular the risks that COVID-19 brings of losing ground, of the pandemic causing a series of mutually reinforcing catastrophes, of deepening divides, and of the need for innovation. It then underlines what these mean for libraries, and the ways in which our institutions can respond.

7) Get Into Guides

IFLA engages with a number of international organisations and processes as part of its work. In many cases, there are opportunities for Members to do the same, both in order to support global advocacy, and to bring immediate benefits for their own work.

A new page brings together our ‘Get Into…’ Guides, which set out the background to the different processes, what engagement can bring for libraries, and practical ideas on how you can do this.

8) Other Blogs

We have published a post looking at six different roles that libraries can play in delivering the SDGs (the ‘6 ‘P’s’), as well as another providing a structure for thinking through how you can gather and organise evidence about libraries’ contribution to delivering the SDGs.

To mark the International Day for the Universal Access to Information, we published two pieces, one looking at how we can apply the economic concept of public goods to describing the role of libraries and information, and one on the need to treat access to information as a right, not a commodity.

You may also be interested in other posts, including about libraries and disaster risk reduction, on libraries and mental health, on libraries, housing and communities, how libraries are supporting teachers during COVID-19, lessons from WIPO’s Global Innovation Index, the connection between open access and biodiversity, and whether the class of 2020 risks being the least well informed in years.

As ever, we are keen to hear about what you are doing, including your successes in building contacts and awareness, and ensuring that the role of libraries is recognised, celebrated and supported. So don’t hesitate to let us know!